love is.

Love is sacrifice.

Love is brave.

Love is not lazy. Love works hard.

Love has no inhibitions.

Love is not self conscious.

Love is confident.

Love is a radical choice, sometimes illogical. Because love gives even when it doesn’t get.

Love is choosing kindness, especially at 3am.

Love encourages.

Love celebrates.

Love confronts when darkness invades.

Love is an anchor.

Love is fierce and tender, safe and strong.

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:: photo by Kara DeYoung ::

motherhood isn’t a performance.

Hi. My name is Allison. And I’m addicted to people-pleasing.

Motherhood: it’s hard for the perfectionist people-pleaser. In this sneaky, backwards way, I realize that I’m striving for that ever-elusive label of “perfect mom”. I’m not talking about the one that has a neat house and the pinterest-perfect nursery. Those are surface level things. I’m talking about the more intrusive things. I hope I wasn’t a helicopter mom and that I let everyone have adequate time with baby girl. I hope she took great naps and breastfed perfectly. I hope I made all the right decisions for her, but I also hope I still managed to prioritize my marriage. I hope that I communicated well and worked hard at my job. I hope I found time to spend with God, and I hope I worked out. The list goes on. At end of the day, I want to have pleased everyone. Perfectly.

Seeking these things isn’t a bad thing, but the problem is, I’m addicted to the “good job” that is attached to them. And when I don’t get that affirmation, I feel insecure. I know that each personality type, each woman, has a unique challenge with motherhood. It’s all different buckets of hard and good. But I’m just going to speak to all the perfectionist people-pleasers like me: can we stop trying to please everyone? Motherhood isn’t a performance. The affirmation of others and my idea of perfection too often sits on the throne of my life. And nothing draws that out of me like being a mom. But I don’t want that anymore. I want Jesus. Because he is enough.

So, if you’re anything like me, can we let the love and grace of Jesus be real? Real enough to settle the perfectionist tendencies and the constant striving to please our husbands, our parents, our friends, our kids, our egos?

I want to hunger and thirst for righteousness instead of affirmation.

I want Jesus to be enough for today and leave tomorrow where it should be.

I won’t be the perfect mom, perfect wife, or perfect friend. I won’t love perfectly. I won’t prioritize perfectly. So I’m just going to try and let go of perfection and the constant need to please everyone and simply hold onto Jesus.

And I am pretty sure that when I seek to please him, everything else will fall into place.

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dear husband.

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Dear husband,

I just want you to know something. I love you. I love you deep like the ocean. I love you big like the sky. I love you fierce like a lion. I love you.

I mean you. are. my. hero. Seriously. I am so thankful for you. It’s been quite the year, and the girl you married may have gotten stuck in April of 2014. You know her? Yeah, the one who had energy and sass and was always up for adventure. Ok, I didn’t lose much sass, but definitely some of the energy. That got swallowed up in morning sickness until late September, then overshadowed by a big belly until late January, and in the last 12 weeks it’s been muffled by baby cries and night feedings and covered in spit up. Oh the spit up. It’s my new perfume, but you don’t mind.

In fact, you don’t mind any of it. At all. It sometimes doesn’t make sense to me, but love, the real kind, it’s always irrational. Thanks for working hard. For sacrificing. For your selflessness. Thanks for fighting for our marriage. For demanding date night. For helping me loosen my grip on things that don’t matter and hold on tightly do the things that really do. Thanks for giving me so much grace.

Remember those 20 hours of labor? I felt scared out of my mind, and you were ever so steady and reassuring. You reminded me I was brave. And strong. And you prayed. With me and for me. And when things didn’t go how I thought they would, you encouraged me, you fought for me, you loved me so well. YOU are the one who is strong. And brave. See what I mean? You’re my hero. You haven’t stopped fighting and praying and being brave and strong and tender. You, dear husband, are a good man.

So, I just want to remind you, because maybe it hasn’t been as obvious or as clear or as loud in the last three months, I LOVE YOU.

Your love has changed me. And loving you has changed me. And I’m wildly thankful and humbled daily that Jesus gave me a man, a partner, a best friend like you.

Love,
your wife.

8 weeks.

8 weeks. It’s been 8 weeks since little MJ was born. It’s also been 8 weeks since I started writing this blog post in my head. Each week I thought I had something nailed down to write, and suddenly it all changed because I changed or my baby changed and life felt different again and again and again. Change. 8 weeks of gut-wrenching, joy-giving, beautiful, messy change. So finally, I decided, I have to just go for it. Because this is my new life. Life where change is likely to happen moment to moment and guaranteed to happen week by week. That’s the life of raising a child, I’m finding. And though my Type-A, structure-addicted personality finds that absolutely terrifying, there is also a whole lot of unexpected joy and blissful freedom in totally embracing this season of constant change.

In the last 8 weeks, I’ve learned…

SELFLESSNESS. I remember Luke and I talking about how face-to-face we came with our selfishness when we got married. All of a sudden you’re accountable to someone besides yourself at all times. But friends, NOTHING stirs up your selfishness like having a baby. For once in my life, I am not thinking about myself constantly. This is new territory (sad, I know, but I’m being honest). It’s hard and ugly at times, but so very good.

GRACE. I’m learning so. much. grace. Thankfully, the good Lord gives us a wellspring of grace that never runs dry. Thankfully, his mercies are new every morning. Because friends, if they weren’t, I would’ve dried up in my desert of guilt a long time ago. I’ve had many moments over the last month where I’ve felt so inadequate and questioned everything. I’ve cried from utter exhaustion. At times I’ve felt guilty for all my decisions because nothing awakens your insecurity quite like being a new mom. So in this season, I’m embracing grace like never before. So much grace. Grace that is greater than the guilt that I’ve felt or the fear that creeps in. And I’m just learning to trust this process and trust God’s hand in baby girl’s life. I find a lot of freedom in that.

FRIENDSHIP. Oh sweet friendship. In no other season of my life have I been more grateful for friends. Friends who hear and share and see my doubt and exhaustion. Friends who have given me permission to cry when it’s hard. Permission to not have to enjoy every moment. Permission to make mistakes. Permission to admit that I don’t know my child the way I wish I did at times. Yes, she’s my baby, but she is also a total stranger in a lot of ways. And like anyone, she takes time to get to know! The nods of agreement have breathed life into my tired soul and given me the space and freedom to feel normal. This sisterhood of motherhood…it’s a beautiful gift.

LOVE. The depth of love I have for this sweet baby girl is terrifying and incredible. I’ve never known a love so fierce and strong. A small taste of the love of Christ. It overwhelms me in the best way. And watching my husband love our baby girl has opened up a whole new kind of love in my heart for him. I see him be protective and bold and tender. I’m so grateful my daughter will grow up with a daddy who treasures her heart.

8 weeks of motherhood. 8 weeks of knowing my husband as a father, 8 weeks of discovering my sweet little MJ. 8 weeks of constant change. So much is new. And on this terrifying roller coaster of parenthood, when I know there is so much I don’t know, when I’m sure there is newness hiding in every twist and turn, I’m figuring out how to trust and be brave. Because when I’m honest, I never, ever want this crazy ride to end.

It’s the best thing I’ve ever done.

writer’s block

It shouldn’t surprise me that the second I decide to try and write more often I get the worst case of writer’s block the world has ever known. Combine that with the fact that I feel a whole bunch of pressure to hold myself accountable for this new goal I’ve set (to write more), and I have a recipe for not writing anything at all for the next 50 years. I am definitely not the type of person that thrives under pressure. So here I am now, writing about how I have nothing to write about. How… Exciting….

There are a million things to write about, but also nothing to write about at all. Usually it’s a good idea to write about what’s on your heart or whatever idea has been relentlessly rolling around your mind recently. I mean, I could write about the struggle it is to run while pregnant (at least for me). How I imagined gliding through pregnancy as fit as can be but have been humbled time and again by things I never saw coming. How I still am overwhelmed by God’s goodness to give us this gift of a baby. I could write about how this will be the first of what I am sure will be many moments in parenting and child-rearing that I’ll have my expectations both shattered and exceeded at the same time. I could also write about more superficial things like how somehow, some maternity jeans fit tighter around my belly than my normal jeans. (?!?!?!?!?!) I could write about my job, how thankful I am to work with a team of women who love life and Jesus and kids and how beautiful it is when all those things come together. I could write about my husband, who I adore. Who is so patient and kind and fun to be around. An ode to the man who dares to love me through my grumpiest days. How thankful I am that he is the father of this precious baby.

You get the point – there is lots to say, but at the same time, nothing to say because it all seems a little bit too cliché. But here’s what I know. These cliché moments, these normal days, these uneventful weeks that seem to hurry by… they are the moments where life is lived. So here’s a cheers to lots more jumbled thoughts and random posts, because they are the ones we relate to. They are the ones that write our story.

a new chapter.

I started this blog earlier this year to chronicle my thoughts as I trained for my first marathon. Seeing as how I STILL haven’t written a recap of marathon race day, I probably didn’t do a very good job… But, because of that, this whole thing started as primarily a running blog. There will still be plenty of posts about running I’m sure. But now, 6 months later, I wanted to broaden the subject matter a bit for a few reasons. One, I love writing and think it needs to become a habit. I’ve dabbled in blogging since college, but I’ve never been the best at consistency. I want to change that, which brings my to my next point. I think I’m finally in a place to blog consistently. (Famous last words, I know.) Three, I do absolutely love running, but there is so much more to my life. I want to write about my family, my faith, and my thoughts as I embark on motherhood. My hope is that I can blog authentically and honestly and in doing so encourage other wives, friends, runners, and moms to live in the awesome grace of Jesus. So…here we go! Onto the next chapter. Thanks again for reading.DSC_1021

short runs and sunsets

I was sitting on the couch reading. Tired. Feeling slightly sick and really hot lazy. It’s been a long week.

I got up to get some water, hoping to ease the nausea, and caught a glimpse of the sky. It was on fire. Through our kitchen window I could see the pink light dancing around the robust, deep gray clouds.

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And I knew, I HAVE TO SEE MORE OF THIS. Without a second thought to my water, my nausea, or my laziness, I dashed up the stairs, wriggled out of my jeans and threw on some shorts and a tank top. I barely remembered to supplement with a sports bra, but praise the Lord I did because, real talk: these pregnancy “girls” cannot, I repeat, CANNOT, go on a run without being strapped down. If you don’t know what that means, then nevermind.

Anyway, I threw on an ancient pair of running shoes, mostly because I had tripped on them while haphazardly running into our room which meant I knew exactly where they were. And, knowing that sunsets disappear quickly, I didn’t have time to even think about where I’d left my current running shoes the day before.

Finally, I left our house, lights on, door unlocked (oops), and set off running. And for the first time in months, running didn’t feel like some form of self-inflicted torture. Thankfully I remembered my phone for some pictures. Around each corner, the sky kept changing, brightening, expanding and shrinking all at the same time. Light is so mysterious.

I knew I wouldn’t make it to the lake in time to catch the sunset across the water, so I stopped a few times along the way to take pictures of the rapidly changing sky. iPhone pics won’t do this justice, but it’s the best I have to share.

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So inadequate, but that fire…it was captivating.

I made it to the lake, kinda praying I didn’t run too hard in my excitement to soak up all I could of the sky’s bursting hues. I ran down to the shore and took a couple last pics of the fading color. And just like that, the sun kissed the sky goodnight. It was beautiful.

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…going, goingIMG_3604

…gone.

I stood there sweating and out of breath, feeling really thankful. Thankful that I can sweat and be out of breath. Thankful for the miracle of life growing inside me. Honestly, it completely overwhelms me in the best way when I really think about it. But too many times this week I let anxiety and what-ifs steal my joy. That’s life. For the first time this week, I really let myself reflect on the promises of a really good God. Our lives will not be without hardship, but opposition is God’s opportunity to show us how big, how good, how faithful he is. And God is really, really good. If he can paint a sky like he did tonight, he can certainly carry us through anything. It’s so easy to worry. So easy to spend too much time in the future – things that aren’t even real – and forget that (I know this sounds cheesy) the present holds the most joy. I’m thankful to know real and infinite and beautiful grace. And I’m thankful for sunsets like this one tonight that remind me of that grace.

And on that note, I turned around and ran back home.